Saturday, March 2, 2013

AMAZING WINES from NORTHERN GREECE May Be The New Wine Trend by Philip S. Kampe

The Greeks have been making wine for well over 3000 years. Northern Greece has recently become a focus for Greek wines. During the last 50 years, the make-up of the vineyards, grape varieties and wine making philosophies have changed so much that this region has been ‘noticed’ by the international wine community.
The wines from Northern Greece have been successful because most of the wines made today are wines for food and are not overly demanding on our palate. In fact, some of the reds peak when chilled.

The wine-growing regions of North Greece are ‘Large open plains crossed by rivers and are semi-mountainous areas with low, gentle hills. Tall mountains and enclosed plateaus are kept cool by the breezes from large and small lakes. In the distance lies the rugged coastline, surrounded by the Aegean and Ionian seas’. 
The topography of Northern Greece is complex and interesting.
The Mediterranean climate with mild winters and sunny summers propel numerous micro-climates and proper soil composition. This is particularly beneficial for vine-growing for the numerous (300) indigenous grape varieties and newly planted international varieties that inhabit Greece.
I have often had discussions regarding ‘How can we remember the indigenous grape varieties? The Greek words are just too difficult to process. What should I do?’ The answer is simple, enjoy the wine and the indigenous grape and your palate will tell you what is right and wrong without the varietals name.
Since that discussion, I am no longer a cynic regarding grape names.

At a Greek restaurant, recently, during ‘Happy Hour’, I ran into Aris Soultanos, marketing manager for Eklektikon, an importer of boutique wines from Northern Greece.
As fate would have it, Aris had three wines that he wanted me to sample. Totally unprepared and inspired by trying new wines with indigenous grapes, I was up for the challenge.

The three bottles that Aris was going to pour were bottled like a pieces of art. With mythology as the universal theme, each bottle was suggestive enough to remember the bottle and not the grapes that made-up the wine.

My first sample was a 2011 white wine named Eurynome, 100% organic and made with the ‘Roditis’ grape.  At 13% alcohol, this wine was crisp, fruity and had a long, lingering  finish. To me, it was an obvious wine that would pair well with seafood and spicy foods.
The wine was so good, I was hesitant to try the other two wines, both red.
I took the plunge and tried the red Eurynome 2011. Also, 100% organic, this wine was complex, medium-bodied and richly tannic in a good way. Aged for 12 months in oak and another six in the bottle, Eurynome shined with it’s indigenous make-up of 70% Xinomavro and 30% Negoska grapes. The wine was both velvety and elegant and a must buy for Greek wines.
The third wine, also organic, was a 2011 Staphylus red, ruby in color with obvious vanilla and dark fruit aromas. Add 30% Cabernet Sauvignon to 70% Xinomavro and you have a dry wine with manageable tannins and a dark fruit palate that lingers.

If these three wines are not enough for your newly found curiosity for wines from Northern Greece, consider the following wines, as well:

Domaine Glinavos, Primus-Zitsa 2011 (White) and made with 100% Debina grapes.

Wine Art Estate, Techni Malagousia, PGI, Macedonia 2012 (White) and made with 100% Malagousia.

Kitma Voyatzi Xinomavro, PGI Velvento 2009 (Red) made with 100% Xinomavro.

Alpha Estate, Alpha Xinomavro Reserve old Vines, PDO Amyndeon 2008 (Red), made with 100% Xinomavro.

To learn more about the wines from Northern Greece, visit:


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